Published: 24 October, 2012, 18:11
Reuters / Ismail Zetouni
Pro-government forces in Libya have seized control of Bani Walid, the last bastion of Colonel Gaddafi’s supporters. It comes twenty days after government miliitias encircled the city – blocking all food, medicine, and humanitarian aid from entering.
An RT source has described violent images of militias destroying homes with heavy machinery.
A man named Faraj, who is currently in Egypt but is in contact with relatives in Bani Walid, said that militias from Misrata, along with Islamist groups, were blockading the city.
“The militias have blocked and attacked the city and civilian people. Most of [the civilians] have run. The children and elderly are screaming for food and medicine. The [militias] killed the people and demolished houses…and they used internationally forbidden gases against the civilian people inside,” Faraj told RT.
Faraj also reported that the militias attacked the town’s electricity station and closed down mobile phone service.
Many western media outlets have reported that government forces are behind the blockade – but Faraj says that is simply not true.
“Libyan government forces did not attack Bani Walid…don’t think that it is government forces. This is Misrata militias and Islamist groups,” he said.
Meanwhile, AFP has reported that the town has been completely seized.
According to AFP, hundreds of pro-government fighters fired their guns in the air and raised the Libyan flag on abandoned public buildings to celebrate the seizure.
Other fighters blasted the windows and walls of nearby buildings with Kalashnikov rifles and anti-tank rockets. The fighters were mostly former rebels from the rival town of Misrata.
Rebel chiefs told AFP that some resistence was taking place in the southern area of the town, but that the region was“almost liberated.”
Government militias have blockaded the town for the past 20 days, seeking to arrest those responsible for the death of Omran Shaaban – the man credited with capturing Muammar Gaddafi last year. The Warfalla tribe controlling Bani Walid was accused of kidnapping and torturing Shaaban.
Wednesday’s victorious fighters carried a large portrait of Shaaban.